Five security guards will be charged over the deaths of 17 Iraqis who were shot during an anti-American rally in Baghdad last year.
Blackwater gurads were hired to protect American diplomats Photo: AP
The employees of Blackwater Worldwide, who were hired by the US State Department to protect American diplomats, opened fire on a crowd who had gathered at an interstate in the Iraqi capital on September 16 2007.
Six guards have been under investigation since the attacks after witnesses claimed the shooting was unprovoked.
Blackwater continues to deny the allegations claiming its guards were ambushed by insurgents while responding to a car bombing.
Young children were among the victims and the shooting strained relations between the U.S. and Iraq.
Following the deaths, Blackwater became the subject insurgent propaganda videos in Iraq.
The Justice Department has been considering manslaughter and assault charges against the guards for weeks but has not released details of the exact indictment.
Prosecutors have also been considering bringing charges for using a machine gun in a crime of violence which carries a mandatory 30-year-sentence.
One of the six guards has been negotiating to reduce the charges against him in return for him testifying against colleagues.
But the law is unclear on whether contractors can be charged in the U.S. or anywhere, for crimes committed overseas.
Based in Moyock, North Carolina, Blackwater itself is not a target of the FBI investigation. Company officials have cooperated with the investigation and say their guards did nothing wrong.
Further complicating the case, the State Department granted all the Blackwater guards limited immunity in exchange for their sworn statements shortly after the shooting. Prosecutors will need to show that they did not rely on those statements in building their case.
By Sarah Knapton
Last Updated: 9:22AM GMT 06 Dec 2008
Source: The Telegraph